Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret
among contemporary American writers. --John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture Marly Youmans is a novelist and poet out of sync with the times
but in tune with the ages. --First Things

Thursday, June 06, 2013

You've come a long way, baby--

From an article (by a man) on longevity as a writer in the SFWA Bulletin, 2013
The reason for Barbie's unbelievable staying power, when every contemporary and wanna-be has fallen by the way-side is, she's a nice girl. Let the Bratz girls dress like tramps and whores. Barbie never had any of that. Sure, there was a quick buck to be made going that route but it wasn't for her. Barbie got her college degree, but she never acted as if it was something owed to her, or that Ken ever tried to deny her.

She has always been a role model for young girls, and has remained popular with millions of them throughout their entire lives, because she maintained her quiet dignity the way a woman should.
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre, 1847
Who blames me? Many, no doubt; and I shall be called discontented. I could not help it: the restlessness was in my nature; it agitated me to pain sometimes. Then my sole relief was to walk along the corridor of the third storey, backwards and forwards, safe in the silence and solitude of the spot, and allow my mind's eye to dwell on whatever bright visions rose before it--and, certainly, they were many and glowing; to let my heart be heaved by the exultant movement, which, while it swelled it in trouble, expanded it with life; and, best of all, to open my inward ear to a tale that was never ended--a tale my imagination created, and narrated continuously; quickened with all of incident, life, fire, feeling, that I desired and had not in my actual existence.

It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquillity: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it. Millions are condemned to a stiller doom than mine, and millions are in silent revolt against their lot. Nobody knows how many rebellions besides political rebellions ferment in the masses of life which people earth. Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts, as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.


  1. Wow, stunning examples from then and now! Sad too. (Never allowed a Barbie in our home...)

  2. It's hard to know what adjectives to apply, isn't it? Though "sad" is one that works.

    I didn't ever buy any either, but then some older child gave my daughter a few. But she was already out of dolls. She tended to like stuffed animals better, anyway.

  3. Well, thank God Barbie knows her place, eh? I hope we've all learned that a woman should be quiet to have dignity.

  4. Very quiet. So quiet she cannot open her lips!

    On the facebook comments for this link, there's a parody. I'll have to copy and post it here when I have a minute.

    Right now the cooktop installer is here! Rah! We've been about a month without one.

  5. I preferred troll dolls. But I had a Barbie. I think I beheaded her.

  6. Happy cooking! How did you do without a cooktop?

  7. We baked inside and grilled outside, sometimes in rain and cold. And we ate out more than usual. I'm glad that's over because tourist season has started and places are jammed.

    I had troll dolls. Ferocious pink hair, green hair, rainbow hair. And I had some tiny ones from a gumball machine. So I had family!

    The only thing I had even remotely like a Barbie was Pepper--much more normal proportions--and her sister Tammy. I had one of those fold-up houses for them. Because that year all my neighbors liked to take their houses and go visiting. I can remember a whole neighborhood of these houses up in the attic of a neighbor.

  8. So far the Most Amusing Comment Award goes to Gary Dietz, who posted in the comments under the facebook link to this post. So I spread the glory of his comment here:

    Gary M Dietz The reason for the GI Joe action figure's unbelievable staying power, when every contemporary and wanna-be has fallen by the way-side, is his incredible grip. Let the Ken 'dolls' have stiff and attached digits. GI Joe would never have had any of that. Sure, there was a quick buck to be made being a male fashionisto or RV driver or private security for plushie toys. But that wasn't for him. GI Joe made it through basic training and was deployed all over the yard, but he never acted as if it was something owed to him, or that the wannabe 'Cover Girl' (look her up, circa 1983) ever tried to deny him.

    He has always been a role model for young boys, and has remained popular with millions of them throughout their entire lives, because he maintained his kick-ass Kung Fu grip the way a man should.
    6 hours ago · Edited · Like

  9. To my generation Barbie was the grotesque exaggeration of fantasised femininity; Cindy was more wholesome character and normally proportioned figure. I didn't like or see the point of any dolls really, though I had half a hankering for a Cindy horse.

    I heard a very bright little girl on tv or radio a while back, I forget which, who had a large Barbie collection - it seemed to be the collecting aspect that interested her most - talking about it. They asked her if she had any Kens, she said, oh yes there was one over there somewhere, but really he's just another accessory...

  10. Just another accessory! I love that. And the Cindy horse...

    I liked dolls, but what I liked when I was little was babies. And I had a big Madame Alexander doll that my favorite aunt made clothing for...


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.